Recipes to create a full-course meal

Sunday, April 29, 2012

This is one of those weeks when I do not have a theme to the recipes in this column, and it winds up being a little bit of everything. We will start out with an entree then end up with a couple of sweet treat recipes.

This column is so much fun when you, the readers, send in recipes to pass along to other readers. I often talk to people that say they read this column, and I always invite them to send recipes in so others may enjoy them as well. So now is your chance, get out the recipes and start sending in some of your favorites. It is always fun to see where they come from. I will be watching for your mail.

Caramelized Salmon

Our intern at the Senior Center, Samantha Gill, and I have gotten to be friends through our love for cooking and trying new recipes. This week she brought me this salmon recipe she recently tried and enjoyed.

1 to 2 pounds salmon fillets

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, or more to taste

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Rinse salmon and pat dry. Mix sugar, zest, salt and pepper. Rub fish with mixture. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours if time allows. Grill or broil fish, skin side down, 8 to 12 minutes depending on how thick. Do not overcook.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Grilled Asparagus

Rob Weeks has an abundant asparagus crop this year and we are fortunate to enjoy it, thanks to his generosity. He brought me this recipe to try and using his fresh-from-the-garden crop.

1 pound fresh thick asparagus spears

2 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto

Prepare a medium fire in the grill. Trim off the tough bottoms of the asparagus spears. Wash and dry the spears. Place the asparagus in a large zip-close plastic bag. Add just enough oil to allow you to message the spears and coat them with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and message again. Leave the asparagus in the bag until ready to cook. Place the asparagus on the cooking grate crosswise so it won't fall through. Grill for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the stalks, turning occasionally to expose all sides to the heat. The asparagus should begin to brown in spots, indicating that its natural sugars are caramelizing, but should not be allowed to char. Remove from the grill and let cool to room temperature. Wrap each stalk of grilled asparagus with a thin piece of prosciutto. Serve immediately.

Chicken Cashew and Red Pepper Stir Fry

3 3/4 teaspoons cornstarch, divided

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided

2 teaspoons dry sherry

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

3/4 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)

1 pound chicken breast tenders, cut lengthwise into thin strips

1/2 cup coarsely chopped unsalted cashews

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 cups julienne-cut red bell pepper (about 1 large)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger

3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

Combine 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and next 4 ingredients (through hot pepper sauce) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Combine remaining 2 3/4 teaspoons cornstarch, remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and chicken in a medium bowl; toss well to coat. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add cashews to pan; cook 3 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring frequently. Remove from pan. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add chicken mixture to pan; saute 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan; place in a bowl. Add bell pepper to pan; saut 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and ginger; cook 30 seconds. Add chicken and cornstarch mixture to pan; cook 1 minute or until sauce is slightly thick. Sprinkle with cashews and green onions.

Quick rice pilaf: Cook 1 (10-ounce) package frozen white rice (such as Birds Eye SteamFresh) according to package directions. Combine cooked rice, 2 tablespoons drained chopped water chestnuts, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

Banana Crumble

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon aromatic bitters

5 large bananas, halved and sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish or 6 (8-ounce) ramekins. Stir together first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in butter and bitters.

Place half of banana slices in bottom of baking dish or evenly in bottoms of ramekins. Sprinkle with half of breadcrumb mixture. Repeat with remaining bananas and remaining breadcrumb mixture. Bake 35 minutes. Serve with Bitters-and-Butter Sauce.

Bitters-And-Butter Sauce

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons orange zest

1 teaspoon aromatic bitters

1 teaspoon milk

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, adding more milk if necessary until sauce reaches a pourable consistency.

Strawberry Cream Pie

1 pastry shell (9 inches), baked

1/2 cup slivered almonds, optional

Filling:

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract, optional

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Glaze:

1/2 cup crushed strawberries

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

3 cups fresh strawberries, halved

Whipped cream, optional

Cover bottom of pie shell with nuts if desired; set aside. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt; gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir a small amount into egg; return all to the saucepan. Cook and stir until almost bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes more (do not boil). Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla and almond extract if desired. Cool to room temperature. Whip cream; fold into filling. Pour into pie shell. Chill for at least 2 hours.

About 2 hours before serving, prepare glaze. Combine crushed strawberries and water in a large saucepan; cook for 2 minutes. Combine sugar and cornstarch; gradually stir into the berries. Cook until thick and clear, stirring constantly. Strain. Cool for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, arrange berry halves over filling; pour glaze evenly over berries. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Garnish with whipped cream if desired. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Have a great week, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at news@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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